Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Skipping Meat on Occasion May Protect Against Type 2 Diabetes


People who eat less live longer and healthier lives – many studies point out the positive effect of (intermittent) fasting. However, besides calorie reduction, the quantitative relationship of the individual food components also plays an important role. Scientists at DIfE, a partner of the German Center for Diabetes Research, have now demonstrated in the animal model that the sole restriction of the amino acid methionine* prevents the onset of type 2 diabetes. Their results were published in the FASEB Journal.

In earlier studies, the research team of the Department of Experimental Diabetology at the German Institute of Human Nutrition (DIfE) had already discovered that mice fed low-protein chow had improved blood glucose levels and higher energy expenditure than animals fed standard chow.

Thomas Laeger with first author Teresa Castaño-Martinez (center) and a technical assistant in the laboratory of the Department of Experimental Diabetology.

Photo: David Ausserhofer/DIfE

The results of the current study show that the sole reduction of a single amino acid in the chow has a positive effect on health. A diet with low amounts of methionine improved the glucose metabolism of the mice and their sensitivity to the hormone insulin.

"Interestingly, we observed the beneficial effects of a methionine restricted diet without reducing protein levels and regardless of food intake and body fat," said Dr. Thomas Laeger, head of the project.

Transferability to humans: fibroblast growth factor 21 and possible advantages of a vegan and vegetarian diet

The study data suggest that fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) mediates the protective effect of a methionine restricted diet: if less of the amino acid is consumed, the liver releases more FGF21. Vegetarian or vegan diets usually contain low amounts of methionine compared to foods containing meat and fish.

"Together with colleagues from the Department of Molecular Toxicology and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, we demonstrated that people who eat vegetarian or vegan foods have elevated levels of FGF21 in the blood compared to people who eat an omnivore diet," said first author Teresa Castaño-Martinez. After only four days of a vegetarian diet, the FGF21 levels also increased in the blood of the people eating an omnivore diet.

"If the results from the animal model are transferable to humans, this would be an important step in the treatment of diabetes. Instead of counting calories and generally abstaining from tasty protein-rich foods, only the methionine content in the food would have to be reduced. It may already be sufficient for those affected to eat vegetarian for a week from time to time and thus increase their FGF21 levels. This could greatly facilitate the acceptance of a change in diet," said Laeger.

However, it should be noted that certain groups, including children and pregnant and breastfeeding women, have an increased need for methionine.

Further research needed to gain deeper insights into the developmental mechanisms of type 2 diabetes

The scientists agree that the study should be followed up with further research. It would now be important to find out to what extent the reduced methionine uptake actually contributes to the increase in FGF21 levels. In the future, the research team intends to conduct further investigations with vegans in order to uncover additional evidence for the possible involvement of the amino acid methionine in the development of type 2 diabetes.

*Methionine is a sulfur-containing, essential amino acid which the body cannot produce itself and which therefore must be ingested with food. Like all amino acids, it serves as a building block for proteins. Among other things, methionine contributes to the formation of neurotransmitters and hormones and is thus involved in many important body functions. Although certain nuts, oil seeds and vegetables also contain significant amounts of the essential amino acid, a plant-based diet is usually low in methionine compared to a diet with meat and fish.


Original Publication:

Castaño-Martinez T, Schumacher F, Schumacher S, Kochlik B, Weber D, Grune T, Biemann R, McCann A, Abraham K, Weikert C, Kleuser B, Schürmann A and Laeger T. Methionine restriction prevents onset of type 2 diabetes in NZO mice. FASEB Journal 2019 Jun;33(6):7092-7102. DOI: 10.1096/fj.201900150R (Open Access)

Similar Articles

Laeger T, Castaño-Martinez T, Werno MW, Japtok L, Baumeier C, Jonas W, Kleuser B, and Schürmann A. Dietary carbohydrates impair the protective effect of protein restriction against diabetes in NZO mice used as a model of type 2 diabetes. Diabetologia 2018; 61(6):1459-1469. (Open Access)

Background Information

German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke (DIfE)

The DIfE is a member of the Leibniz Association. It investigates the causes of nutrition-associated diseases in order to develop new strategies for prevention, treatment and nutritional recommendations. Its research interests include the causes and consequences of the metabolic syndrome, a combination of obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), insulin resistance and lipid metabolism disorder, the role of nutrition for healthy aging and the biological bases of food choices and dietary behavior. DIfE is also a partner of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), which has been funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) since 2009.

German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD)

The German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) is one of six German Centers of Health Research. It brings together experts in the field of diabetes research and combines basic research, epidemiology and clinical applications. By adopting an innovative, integrative approach to research, the DZD aims to make a substantial contribution to the successful, personalized prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diabetes mellitus. The members of the association are Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health, the German Diabetes Center Düsseldorf (DDZ), the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke (DIfE), the Institute of Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases of Helmholtz Zentrum München at the University of Tübingen, and the Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden of Helmholtz Zentrum München at the University Medical Center Carl Gustav Carus of TU Dresden, associated partners at the universities in Heidelberg, Cologne, Leipzig, Lübeck and Munich, and other project partners.

Media Contacts

Dr. Thomas Laeger
Project Head / Department of Experimental Diabetology
German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke (DIfE)
phone: +49 (0)33200 88- 2540

Sonja Schäche
Head of Press and Public Relations
German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke (DIfE)
phone: +49 (0)33200 88-2278
e-mail: /

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Dr. Thomas Laeger
Project Head / Department of Experimental Diabetology
German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke (DIfE)
phone: +49 (0)33200 88- 2540


Castaño-Martinez T, Schumacher F, Schumacher S, Kochlik B, Weber D, Grune T, Biemann R, McCann A, Abraham K, Weikert C, Kleuser B, Schürmann A and Laeger T. Methionine restriction prevents onset of type 2 diabetes in NZO mice. FASEB Journal 2019 Jun;33(6):7092-7102. DOI: 10.1096/fj.201900150R (Open Access)

Sonja Schäche | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Genetic differences between strains of Epstein-Barr virus can alter its activity
18.07.2019 | University of Sussex

nachricht Machine learning platform guides pancreatic cyst management in patients
18.07.2019 | American Association for the Advancement of Science

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Better thermal conductivity by adjusting the arrangement of atoms

Adjusting the thermal conductivity of materials is one of the challenges nanoscience is currently facing. Together with colleagues from the Netherlands and Spain, researchers from the University of Basel have shown that the atomic vibrations that determine heat generation in nanowires can be controlled through the arrangement of atoms alone. The scientists will publish the results shortly in the journal Nano Letters.

In the electronics and computer industry, components are becoming ever smaller and more powerful. However, there are problems with the heat generation. It is...

Im Focus: First-ever visualizations of electrical gating effects on electronic structure

Scientists have visualised the electronic structure in a microelectronic device for the first time, opening up opportunities for finely-tuned high performance electronic devices.

Physicists from the University of Warwick and the University of Washington have developed a technique to measure the energy and momentum of electrons in...

Im Focus: Megakaryocytes act as „bouncers“ restraining cell migration in the bone marrow

Scientists at the University Würzburg and University Hospital of Würzburg found that megakaryocytes act as “bouncers” and thus modulate bone marrow niche properties and cell migration dynamics. The study was published in July in the Journal “Haematologica”.

Hematopoiesis is the process of forming blood cells, which occurs predominantly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow produces all types of blood cells: red...

Im Focus: Artificial neural network resolves puzzles from condensed matter physics: Which is the perfect quantum theory?

For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.

Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...

Im Focus: Extremely hard yet metallically conductive: Bayreuth researchers develop novel material with high-tech prospects

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".

The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

Latest News

Heat flow through single molecules detected

19.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Heat transport through single molecules

19.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Welcome Committee for Comets

19.07.2019 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>